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Four Season Virtual Tree Trail

Station Nine - Winged Elm    Ulmus alata

 

The size a winged elm attains depends much on its habitat.  In dry areas, the tree is usually a short and straggly tree and is often a part of the understory. However, in favorable habitat, the winged elm can reach 80 to 100 feet in height and have a trunk diameter up to 3 feet in diameter.  It ranges over much of the southeastern United States.

Habitat:  Quite varied; dry uplands and abandoned fields as well as moist valleys and hardwood forests.

 

 
Station Nine
   
 
  Winged Elm Leaf Top & Bottom

Identification:  Identification:  The leaves are alternate, simple and 1 inches to 3 inches long.  They are darker above than below, and the margin is asymmetric at the base and doubly serrate.  Compare the leaf shape characteristics carefully to that of the Eastern Hophornbeam.  Note the alternate branching on this tree.

 

   
 
Winged Elm Bark

 

The bark of the Winged Elm is gray-brown, thin and smooth in young trees, with shallow fissures and long, narrow scaly ridges. 

 

The twigs of the Winged Elm are gray-brown to red-brown and smooth, with orange lenticels.  They often have the corky wings that give this tree its common name.

 

 

   
 
  Winged Elm Flower
   
 
  Winged Elm Samara

 

The flowers of the Winged Elm appear quite early in March.  The flowers are perfect, having both stamens and pistols.  The fruit, or samaras, form by the first week in April.  You can often find the samaras on the surface of the trail beneath winged elms at this time of year.

 

Other Uses and Lore: 

The wood of this tree is hard, strong and close-grained.  It has been used for table legs and tool handles.  In times past the inner bark was made into a rope for fastening the covers of cotton bales.

Many songbirds eat the samaras of the winged elm and nest among its branches.  Deer browse the foliage.

 Butterflies that use it as a host plant include the Comma, the Question Mark and the Mourning Cloak.

 

 The Trail From Station Nine to Station Ten

Shooting Stars

After Station Nine, the trail is almost flat, descending very slowly to Station Ten.  Look for wildflowers along the edges of the trail.  One of the most beautiful, and most aptly named) is the Shooting Star.  Clusters of these wildflowers are common along the lower parts of the tree trail in the spring.  Station Ten will be on the right side of the trail where the trail again forks.  You will take the right fork of the trail, which continues toward the river overlook.

 

 

   
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